Unit 1: Critical thinking is absolutely something that I exercise on a daily basis, in which I am faced with activities and choices which require critical thinking and logic in everyday life. Not only does school work require critical thinking skills, but even daily tasks such as driving and riding a bike require critical thinking when engaging with traffic laws and making quick decisions. In the past month, a specific instance in which I engaged in critical thinking occurred when I faced with the choice of purchasing a bicycle online (versus at a brick and mortar store). I used critical thinking to evaluate the pros and cons of each choice and create a kind of mental scale, with which I could choose the best option. This could benefit others by slowing down decision making processes and making them more deliberate, and therefore more accurate.
Unit 2: This course in critical thinking will be beneficial to me because critical thinking is such an important skill in daily life. The everyday choices we make can actually be extremely complex, and learning the best practices for engaging in critical thinking when confronted with such choices will allow me to make better choices. This will undoubtedly be very beneficial, as better decision making allows one to better pursue their goals and desires in daily living.
Unit 3: The news item I chose is a recent news item concerning the U.S. government’s rejection of a call to offer Edward Snowden clemency. The three sources used were: The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/03/white-house-nsa-edward-snowden-clemency), Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/03/snowden-obamacare-dominate-sunday-talk-shows/), and the NY Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/snowden-bid-clemency-rejected-white-house-intelligence-heads-article-1.1505776). The language in each of the news sources was in fact, very different in both tone and cadence. The Guardian (which happens to be the news source that first collaborated with Edward Snowden and still does to release his leaks), took a very harsh tone with the U.S. government, and made the U.S. sound like it was being unreasonable. Next, Fox News contrasted very sharply with The Guardian’s tone, and made it sound Edward Snowden was making a fruitless plea that was not worthy of mention. The NY Daily News, known for being more liberal, tended towards the tone of The Guardian, but sounded a little less professional in nature than The Guardian’s well-written article.
Unit 4: I do agree that people are generally reluctant to change their perceptions and ideas to accommodate facts. I think that this is because of the strong emotional identity that people place in their perceptions, which are often shared with immediately family and community to create a kind of bond. Additionally, community-wide perceptions serve to differentiate “other” areas or groups of people. Therefore, any facts or ideas that threaten perceptions also serve to threaten one’s place in their community at large.
Unit 6: In the argument that affirmative action in higher education is morally justifiable because of the fact that it compensates for past wrongdoings, provides value in role models for minority groups, and promotes multicultural understanding, the premises do stand as being logically sound. It makes logical sense if there were past moral injustices, then presently there should be efforts made to accommodate and make up for them and the disadvantage that those past injustices may have caused.
Unit 7: Understanding the intended audience reveals the quality of the source because, at their roots, most news organizations are businesses trying to make as much money as possible. Because of the main desire being to sell as many subscriptions or views as possible, a news source that is catered towards a specific group of people is therefore successful in telling said group of people what they want to hear. This often means that it will present the side or viewpoint of complex issues which represent that group’s viewpoint, so as to better please their purchasing audience. This will also mean that for an outside buyer, the news source will be biased towards the audience that it is marketed for.
Unit 8: The subtext of the Toyota Venza commercial (seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUGmcb3mhLM&feature=player_embedded) is that today’s younger generation has the wrong idea about what makes a person happy and social, and that only the older generation truly understands this. The target audience, therefore, is an older audience which can best identify with and take pride in the message of the commercial. Since the older people seen in the commercial are riding mountain bikes and the car is fairly nice, the main demographic of interest is mostly likely men and women in their 40’s and up that are middle class or higher. The ad does seem to be effective in patting the backs of the intended age group to make them feel good, which will help them to identify well with their product.
Unit 9: A common mistaken argument that is often made is that if something has not been proven true, then it must be false. The reverse argument is also guilty of the same faulty logic that if something has not been proven to be false, it must be true. One specific example in which this argument is often made is in the context of religious arguments against atheism. The argument against atheists is often made that since there is no proof that God does not exist then God must exist. This, however, is guilty of the fact that the burden of proof lies with those that are making a claim (i.e. that God does exist). The absurdity and fallacy of the argument comes out when one instead says that since there is no proof that an invisible one-eyed monster does not exist, then one must exist.
Unit 11: I think that understanding the nature of perception will encourage people to be more tolerant of those with whom they disagree. This is because a more complete understanding of the nature of perception will most likely reveal the many problems and common fallacies in perception that nearly everyone holds. An understanding of the faultiness of our faculties could allow people to be more forgiving of both others, and questioning of themselves, which should in effect raise tolerance of outside ideas.
Unit 12: I believe that aliens exist because of mankind’s understanding of the magnitude of the universe (or multiverse) at large. Astronomers do not yet know if the size of the universe is finite (it may in fact be infinite). In such a huge or even infinite universe, it seems statistically unlikely that other life would not have emerged and evolved in other places. In fact, to think that alien life has not developed elsewhere seems to be short-sighted thinking.
Edward Snowden's bid for clemency rejected by White House, Congressional intelligence heads. (n.d.). NY Daily News. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/snowden-bid-clemency-rejected-white-house-intelligence-heads-article-1.1505776
US denies clemency to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. (n.d.). Fox News. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/03/snowden-obamacare-dominate-sunday-talk-shows/
White House rejects clemency for Edward Snowden over NSA leaks. (n.d.). The Guardian. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/03/white-house-nsa-edward-snowden-clemency